Two rival opposition groups stage one of the biggest days of protest so far against President Kais Saied, denouncing his moves to consolidate political power as public anger grows over fuel and food shortages.

Some of the protesters carried empty containers to symbolise the rising cost of water due to inflation, which hit 9.1 percent in September.
Some of the protesters carried empty containers to symbolise the rising cost of water due to inflation, which hit 9.1 percent in September. (AFP)

Thousands of Tunisians have demonstrated in the capital Tunis, denouncing a power grab by President Kais Saied and demanding accountability for the country's long-running economic crisis.

Protesters in central Tunis on Saturday chanted, "Down, down", "Revolution against dictator Kais" and "The coup will fall."

The march was organised by the National Salvation Front, a coalition of opposition parties including the Ennahdha that had dominated Tunisia's parliament before its dissolution by Saied.

Ali Laarayedh, Tunisia's former prime minister and a senior Ennahdha official, told the AFP news agency that the protest was an expression of "anger at the state of affairs under Kais Saied".

"We are telling him to leave."

Upcoming parliament vote

Saied fired prime minister and assumed all executive power in July last year and later through a constitution consolidated his grip over the country.

Saied's move was welcomed by some Tunisians tired of what they saw as a fractious and corrupt system established after the 2011 revolution that ousted late dictator Zine El Abidine Ali.

But a worsening economic situation, compounded by supply shortages in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, has agitated many in the North African country of 12 million.

If Saied stays, "Tunisia will have no future," said Laarayedh, citing growing despair, poverty and unemployment.

The National Salvation Front has announced it will boycott a December vote to elect a new parliament with limited powers.

Ennahdha's deep ideological rival, the secular Free Destourian Party (PDL), also organised a protest in the capital on Saturday.

Economic troubles 

Saied "is doing nothing, and things are only getting worse", said Souad, a pensioner in her 60s at the secular party's demonstration.

Some of the protesters carried empty containers to symbolise the rising cost of water due to inflation, which hit 9.1 percent in September.

Around 1,500 people joined the Ennahdha-led demonstration, while nearly 1,000 attended the PDL protest, the Interior Ministry told AFP.

In public remarks, Saied has argued he was working to "correct" economic troubles he had inherited from Tunisia's post-Ben Ali leadership.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Saturday it had reached a tentative agreement with the Tunisian government to unblock a $1.9 billion loan to alleviate the economic crisis.

Under the four-year accord, which still requires the approval of the IMF board, Tunisia has committed to undertake a "comprehensive economic reform programme" as it gets access to the money, according to an IMF statement.

Source: AFP